Level Up Episode 12
It’s late. An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) surprises Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) by calling. He wants to see her. They walk and talk. He admits he’s nervous about tomorrow’s launch event just like she is. Dan Te asks if she still has bad dreams about her brother. Yeon Hwa shares her dreams aren’t as frequent but she doesn’t consider them bad but ways to remember her brother. Dan Te admits he choose to restructure Joybuster as a way to forget his father. Yeon Hwa asks if it worked. Dan Te admits his memories of his fathers became clear which in the end was better for him. He knows he wasn’t living a full life. Now his dreams can include his father. Yeon Hwa chuckles that the end result was unexpected and better. She thanks him for considering her a confidant. She admits talking to him helps her too. Dan Te teases her that she’s a good replacement for Monkey. They both smile.
Lying in bed Dan Te remembers…
Flashback…Dan Te’s father takes a family photo with his mother, Monkey, and himself in the hospital. A nurse came in and took the photo. It turned out to be the last photo.
Flashback…At the memorial service Dan Te’s father tells Dan Te that when he talks to Monkey, it opens a pathway to his mother so he’s really talking to her. Dan Te doesn’t believe his father who scoffs that not believing it the problem. Dan Te reconsiders.
A moment when Dan Te’s father didn’t irritate me, sweet!
Yeon Hwa remembers Dan Te telling her she’s a good replacement for Monkey. She smiles and hugs the moment in her heart.
Han Cheol arrives at Joybuster late a night.
Someone enters Joybuster and reconnects the server to the outside world.
Dan Te’s step brother, Kang Hoon, wakes Dan Te who’s slept in. Dan Te agrees to pay for Kang Hoon’s clothes and makeup for the day. He warns Kang Hoon not to overspend. Kang Hoon take the credit card from Dan Te’s wallet and sees a photo. He pulls it out. It’s the last photo of Dan Te’s family with Kang Hoon’s picture added in the corner. Touched, Kang Hoon smiles, this is Dan Te’s family and he’s in the picture.
Everyone arrives at Joybuster. But there’s a problem. The server has a virus. They see the server has been reconnected to the outside world. The game is inoperable. Who had the key to the server. Manager Park notes Han Cheol had the key. Dan Te urges the development team to determine the issue and fix it before the launch event. Manager Song reports Han Cheol is no where to be found. Dan Te warns everyone not assume Han Cheol is the culprit, not without proof. He wants to see the CCTV footage.
Kang Hoon and Sang Mi arrive ready to VJ and demo the new game. They wonder why there aren’t reporter and others milling about. Yeon Hwa states NexViper’s launch event is likely where everyone is. She shrugs saying an small launch isn’t a bad thing. The guest VJs start streaming and urge folks to come to the event.
Manager Song, Dan Te, Manager Park and Yeon Hwa discover the CCTV wasn’t recording last night. Dan Te is sure NexViper is behind this. Manager Song wants to find Han Cheol ASAP. Yeon Hwa recommends rescheduling the event. Dan Te doesn’t agree and wants pass of the demo footage as live game footage. Yeon Hwa disagrees considering it fraud. Dan Te retorts they have no other option. They agree to keep this between the four of them.
Of course, Yeon Hwa has to convince Kang Hoon and Sang Mi to use the demo footage and pretend to play the game. Kang Hoon doesn’t like it but Sang Mi is pragmatic. They both agree to use the demo footage.
Unfortunately the development team cannot undo the damage the virus has caused. There will be no live game action.
The CEO’s right hand Manager reports to the NexViper CEO that everything is falling apart at Joybuster, just like they planned. Meanwhile their launch event is packed with reporters. The Manager reports that Joybuster will use demo footage. They chuckle knowing a reporter they sent will expose this.
CEO Bae Ya Chae (Kang Byul) and Jay (from the boy band) get in her car to attend NexViper’s game launch event. Jay asks CEO Bae if she feels bad about supporting NexViper when Joybuster is also having a launch event.
The development team declares they cannot defeat the virus before the launch event. They believe the event should be cancelled.
The NexViper CEO is taken aback to arrive for the launch event and learn their new game has been infected with the same virus they transmitted to Joybuster. Unfortunately all the reporters know there is an issue. Deciding to heed their advice, the NexViper CEO leaves furious that his launch is ruined.
Back at Joybuster, Yeon Hwa and Dan Te agree….the launch event will proceed. They declare the real server needs to be brought from the basement. Everyone is stunned. Smiling, they explain they assumed there would be espionage and they provided a dummy server while closeting the real server safely in the basement. Dan Te compliments Yeon Hwa on her foresight not to fall into NexViper’s trap. Yeon Hwa notes that trap caught them 2 years ago and history wont repeat itself.
NexViper is thwarted!
Manager Park start the launch event to the small crowd. But wait….Kang Hoon and Sang Mi’s call to their followers has worked. Reporters (from the cancelled NexViper event) and others arrive. Kang Hoon chirps the power of celebrity is strong. Yeon Hwa and Dan Te smile at each other. Things are going well.
The NexViper chews out his right hand Manager for the situation.
Kang Hoon and Sang Mi declare it is time to play the new game. They show off the game and seem to like it. The reporter that NexViper sent accuses them of using demo footage. Kang Hoon allows the reporter to direct his character’s movements which proves the game is live.
NexViper is thwarted again!
Ya Chae and Jay arrive at Joybuster much to Dan Te’s surprise. Jay informs Dan Te that NexViper’s event was cancelled. Ya Cha states she’s here to see Kang Hoon and Sang Mi perform in their first event. Dan Te thanks her for coming.
Dan Te gives her the opportunity she’s been dreaming of. Yeon Hwa introduces the team that made the game happen. She acknowledges individuals and cites their contributions.
That sweetly acknowledged the team effort, well done!
The event moves outside to enjoy food and drink. Kang Hoon and Sang Mi are surprised and pleased that CEO Bae came. Yeon Hwa welcomes her. Dan Te asks her to stay and eat. She refuses instead Ya Chae asks to speak privately with Yeon Hwa.
Ya Chae gives the limited edition game to Yeon Hwa. who asks how it came into her possession. Ya Chae says this always belonged to someone else. Yeon Hwa takes it and thanks her. Ya Chae admits things are complicated between herself and Dan Te. He hasn’t come back as she hoped. Ya Chae states that Dan Te belongs to someone else, just like the limited edition game.
That was gracious.
The event is over. Yeon Hwa and Dan Te agree isn’t time to unmask the traitor in their midst. Manager Song joins them to report that Han Cheol hasn’t been found. Manager Park wonders if they should call the police. Dan Te states someone knows where Han Cheol is. He turns to Manager Song and asks where Han Cheol is. Manager Song is taken aback. Dan Te states Manager Song is the traitor. He cites NexViper’s knowledge if using the demo footage and the planted reporter. Manager Song points the finger at Yeon Hwa. Dan Te counters Yeon Hwa came up with the plan to catch the traitor.
Flashback…Yeon Hwa says goodnight to Dan Te. Then it hits her. She declares she has a good idea. Dan Te teases it must be about him. She retorts this is business. She agrees thwarting NexViper from attacking their server is important but catching the traitor is crucial too. Dan Te agrees. She suggests information that only select people know.
Dan Te states Manager Song is the only one that would have leaded information to NexViper. They go back and forth. Finally, Manager Song admits he’s the traitor.
Flashback…Manager Song agrees to help NexViper for the money to clear his father’s debts. The NexViper Manager hands him the flashdrive to infect the Joybuster server.
Manager Song falls to his knees and apologizes. He begs for forgiveness citing his father’s debts that made him vulnerable. Dan Te fires him. But he won’t call the police to report him for espionage. Manger Song is grateful. Dan Te tells him not to blame his father. Family shares good and bad times. Manger Park asks what happened to Han Cheol.
Flashback…Han Cheol returns to Joybuster to retreive the key chain he carved for Yeon Hwa and dropped when he saw her hugging Dan Te. He finds it. He notices someone entering Joybuster. He follows and finds Manager Song. Han Cheol sees the server is connected again. Manager Song tries to get Han Cheol to overlook what he saw. Han Cheol refuses. The men argue. Manager Song pushes Han Cheol who falls back and bashes his head. Manager Song ties up Han Cheol in the greenhouse. He suggest they leave Joybuster together. Han Cheol refuses.
After Manager Song opens the greenhouse door, Yeon Hwa, Dan Te, Manager Park rush to the tied and gagged Han Cheol. He claims to be okay as Yeon Hwa and Manager Park help him to his feet. He’s surprised to see Manager Song. In a smooth move, he asks Manager Song about his glasses (which he removes) and decks him. Dan Te thanks him for not joining NexViper. Yeon Hwa echos her thanks.
Props to Han Cheol!
Han Cheol gives her the hand carved Joybuster key ring. She loves it. He admits he thought of her when carved it. Yeon Hwa comments this isn’t the first gift she’s received today. Han Cheol asks if Dan Te gave her something. She smiles and states it was someone else.
The NexViper CEO is surprised to find Dan Te next to his car. He assumes Dan Te is there to gloat because he won the fight. Dan Te counters that he never won because he never fought. When the CEO states that Dan Te is arrogant. Dan Te retorts he’s superior. He offers to lend the CEO a hand whenever he needs it. He wishes him well and leaves.
The CEO chokes on the kindness he just received.
The Joybuster game is a huge success – game of the year. Dan Te addresses the team to announce this is his last day at the company. He thanks them for trusting him through the bad times. The management team echoes, the sentiment. Everyone cheers. As the management team load their stuff in the cars, Yeon Hwa suggests Dan Te and his team have a farewell dinner with them. Dan Te declines stating goodbyes are best when they are brief. He does offer Yeon Hwa a fist bump, which she returns with a smile. Dan Te smiles and watches Yeon Hwa in the rear view mirror as he pulls away.
Sweet moment with the fist bump. He sought her touch.
Somewhere in the future…
Manager Park tells his father he needs a big raise. He introduces Mi Ja who is three months pregnant. The soon-to-be Grandfather is thrilled. He offers a huge raise. The happy couple is stoked.
CEO Bae is interviewed as one of the powerful manager in the entertainment industry. She’s praised for allowing her talent to be open about relationships not secretive.
Han Cheol trains the new guy on the management team who is impressed with his superior’s knowledge.
Kang Hoon and Dan Te visit their parents memorial. They tease each other with affection. When Dan Te steps away first, Kang Hoon asks his father to share Dan Te’s weaknesses.
Meanwhile Yeon Hwa and her father pay respects to her brother’s memorial. She places the limited edition game in the memory case. Her father boasts that Yeon Hwa is now Joybuster’s CEO.
Kang Hoon doesn’t spot Dan Te when he exits the building. Yeon Hwa and her father exit. They are surprised to see Kang Hoon. He explains his parents are here. Yeon Hwa states her brother is here. Yeon Hwa’s father asks about Dan Te. Kang Hoon states that Dan Te left after a phone call but should be back soon. Yeon Hwa’s father suggests they wait to say hi. Yeon Hwa tells her father she must return to work. They leave in their red compact car.
Dan Te returns and Kang Hoon informs him he just missed Yeon Hwa. Dan Te drives like a crazy man to catch up with her. Unfortunately the red compact car he flags over doesn’t contain Yeon Hwa or her father but two burly bruisers. Yeon Hwa and her father spot them and pull over.
When Yeon Hwa walks up, Dan Te tells the men he was trying to catch up with her. Yeon Hwa talks the men into letting Dan Te go. Yeon Hwa’s father seizes the moment and suggests they all catch up. He takes Kang Hoon into his car leaving Yeon and and Dan Te to drive together.
Dan Te asks how things are at Joybuster. Yeon Hwa asks why he doesn’t ask about how she’s doing. He asks hows she’s doing and congratulates her on becoming CEO. She thanks him for recommending her. He admits he’s thought of her. She asks why he hasn’t called. Dan declares he knew her phone number by heart. He states he remembers all their moments including their first meeting on the train even though she was wearing a mask. This surprises Yeon Hwa. But she grouses that Dan Te never gives romantic answers. That cues Dan Te. He can’t drive safe as her father commanded when he’s stirred up. He pulls over.
As they gaze at the sea, Dan Te admits he wanted to run into her naturally. Yeon Hwa asks if this means they were meant to be reunited. Dan Te teases she’s a bit chubbier giving him more to love. She smiles.
Dan Te swoops in and kisses her.
Then the bees arrive and they run.
The rival’s espionage was thwarted. Writer Kim Dong Kyu gave the Joybuster team multiple challenge and kept strategies by Dan Te and Yeon Hwa to mitigate a secret. NexViper’s mole, Manager Song, fed the rival false news. It was poetic justice when NexViper was infected by its own virus. We saw Joybuster triumph. Joybuster was like the “Little Engine that Could”. They persevered as a team and got the brass ring – a successful launch and a top tier game worldwide. The final scenes let us know that all the characters were doing well. Dan Te and Yeon Hwa finally connected in a romantic way. I’m ignoring the CGI bees one last time.
Ya Chae allowed her artists to have open relationships, which is a atypical and positive for the mental well being of her artists. She gave the limited edition game to Yeon Hwa, that was a pleasant surprise. In the end, she was honest and fair.
Han Cheol wasn’t the traitor. His punch to Manager Song’s face was well deserved. Han Cheol was a nice guy and a bit of a doormat but he did come up with multiple good ideas throughout the series. He was doomed because he liked Yeon Hwa who wasn’t interested in romance and bonded with Dan Te. In the end he trained a young employee like his former self with confidence.
An Dan Te (Sung Hoon) was ready for the obstacles. Dan Te had plans and backups to deal with NexViper’s dirty tricks. He called out Manager Song thanks to Yeon Hwa’s plan to expose the traitor. While the reason Manager Song betrayed Joybuster (debt from his father) was cliche, he immediately apologized and was ready to accept whatever punishment Dan Te deemed. Dan Te didn’t turn him into the police but fired Manager Song.
In the end, Dan Te’s evolution was the core of this series and what was worth watching. Dan Te was honest and learned through Yeon Hwa’s counsel how to be a better person. As for the long awaited romantic moment, Sung Hoon did his signature swoop kiss.
Shin Yeon Hwa (Han Bo Reum) came up with the plan to identify the traitor among them. She correctly guessed Manager Song and set him up to show his traitors ways. I was impressed by Yeon Hwa’s product speech were she gave credit for individual employees and the Joybuster team as a whole. When Dan Te and his management team packed up to leave, it wasn’t a lingering goodbye. He drove away leaving a disappointed Yeon Hwa who seemed to realized that she liked Dan Te in her life in more than a professional romantic. She had every right to grouse at Dan Te’s less than romantic words but wasn’t really mad. Dan Te’s straight talking is part of his charm. She was his human Monkey and excellent sounding board.
Was my wish list for the final episode granted?
* Han Cheol doesn’t betray Joybuster. GRANTED. This was a red herring and a welcomed twist. Han Cheol impressed when he punched Manager Song for sabotage, hitting him, trying to make him betray Joybuster, and tying him up.
* Joybuster succeeds. GRANTED. Dan Te and Yeon Hwa keep their strategies a secret and thwarted NexViper and found the betrayer among themselves. The game launched and was a hit.
* Dan Te and Yeon Hwa step toward each other. GRANTED. History repeated itself. Dan Te walked away from the company and recommended the woman he left become CEO. But the difference with Joybuster is that he cared for Yeon Hwa. It was unusual that he wanted to them reconnect by chance not by reaching out. It worked out. By the time they met, Yeon Hwa was eager to admit she cared and wanted him to verbalize the same. He did but in his own way. They had a decent kiss.
* Dan Te and Kang Hoon end up solid. GRANTED. They are family. They bicker but love each other. The photograph in Dan Te’s wallet that included Kang Hoon was sweet.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as very good. My rating chart is below: